A look at Boris Johnson’s doomed reign: political scandals and key moments in PM’s life

7 July 2022, 10:35 | Updated: 7 July 2022, 11:08

By Asher McShane

Boris Johnson suffered mass Government resignations in the last two days and is going to step down as Prime Minister today

Here's a look at Johnson's rise to power, controversies, and his dramatic fall from grace over the last three years.

November 2021 - Paterson scandal

The Prime Minister at first backed Mr Paterson after the House of Commons Standards Committee found him guilty of breaching rules on paid lobbying by MPs.

Just 24 hours later, Mr Johnson had U-turned in the face of public anger.

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Less than a week later, former attorney general Sir Geoffrey Cox was in the spotlight for earning around £1 million a year as a barrister and using proxy votes to take part in Commons divisions while working in the British Virgin Islands.

The first story of what would become "partygate" broke on November 30, with reports that Downing Street staff had held three gatherings almost a year earlier, when London was under lockdown restrictions.

December - Partygate

First, a video emerged of then-Downing Street press secretary Allegra Stratton joking about parties during a press conference rehearsal leaked.

A £17,800 fine was dished out from the Electoral Commission, which found the Conservatives had improperly declared donations from Lord Brownlow towards the refurbishment of Mr Johnson's Downing Street flat.

A steady drip of partygate stories provided a constant distraction for the Government, including photographs of Mr Johnson at a Christmas quiz and sitting in the garden of Number 10 while staff apparently drank wine and chatted.

Read more: Full list of Tory MPs who have quit Boris Johnson's govt

On May 29 2021 Mr Johnson married Carrie Symonds at Westminster Cathedral
On May 29 2021 Mr Johnson married Carrie Symonds at Westminster Cathedral. Picture: Alamy

January 2022 - More Partygate

Partygate continued with the leak of an email from Mr Johnson's private secretary Martin Reynolds inviting 100 people to a party in Downing Street while the country was still in lockdown and claims Mr Johnson had attended the gathering himself.

Johnson suffered allegations that Islamophobia had contributed to Nusrat Ghani's sacking as a minister, questions over his involvement in the decision to evacuate animals from Afghanistan, the resignation of BEIS minister Lord Agnew over a failure to tackle fraud and the announcement of a Metropolitan Police investigation into partygate.

Mr Johnson attracted further criticism by falsely accusing Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer of failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile while director of public prosecutions. Mr Johnson later "clarified" his remarks, saying he was referring to Sir Keir's responsibility as head of the CPS rather than any decision he had personally made.

Boris Johnson's leadership was rocked by the Partygate scandal
Boris Johnson's leadership was rocked by the Partygate scandal. Picture: Alamy

February - PM appoints 'grope claim' MP deputy chief whip

The Prime Minister appointed Mr Pincher as deputy chief whip alongside new chief whip.

April - Tory MP scandals

David Warburton, the MP for Somerton and Frome, had the Conservative whip withdrawn after allegations of sexual harassment and cocaine use emerged.

Imran Ahmad Khan, the then-Tory MP for Wakefield, was found guilty of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy in 2008.

Khan, who maintains his innocence, was expelled from the Conservative Party and resigned, triggering a by-election that Labour won in June.

Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak were fined for attending the Prime Minister's birthday bash in Downing Street in June 2020, as part of a Metropolitan Police probe into alleged parties at the heart of the Government during the pandemic.

May - Commons porn scandal

Neil Parish quit his seat in Tiverton and Honiton after admitting watching pornography in the Commons. Tiverton and Honiton was snatched by the Liberal Democrats in a June by-election, overturning a Conservative majority of more than 24,000.

May - Tory MP arrested on suspicion of rape

An unnamed Conservative MP was arrested on suspicion of rape and sexual assault offences spanning seven years.

The Sue Gray report was published detailing events at which officials drank so much they were sick, sang karaoke, became involved in altercations and abused security and cleaning staff at a time when millions of people across the country were unable to see friends and family.

June - nearly half of MPs try to oust PM in confidence vote

Boris Johnson contracted Covid-19 in 2020
Boris Johnson contracted Covid-19 in 2020. Picture: Video screengrab

The Prime Minister's authority was damaged by a confidence vote which saw 41% of his MPs try to oust him.

Lord Geidt resigned as ethics adviser a day after telling MPs it was "reasonable" to suggest the Prime Minister broke the ministerial code by breaching lockdown laws.

Defeat in two crunch by-elections and the subsequent surprise resignation of the Conservative Party co-chairman pitched Mr Johnson's leadership into a fresh crisis. Chris Pincher dramatically resigned as deputy chief whip after allegedly assaulting two fellow guests the evening before at the Carlton Club, a Tory private members' club in London.

Downing Street said Mr Johnson was not aware of any "specific allegations" about Mr Pincher when he appointed him to the whips office, but it emerged over the following days that he was told about allegations against him as far back as 2019.

Boris Johnson is resigning as Tory leader - here are some of the key moments in his eventful life.

1964

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is born on June 19 in New York City to parents Stanley Johnson and Charlotte Fawcett.

1977

Mr Johnson receives a scholarship to attend elite boarding school Eton College, where he reportedly develops his trademark "eccentric persona".

1983

He enrols at the University of Oxford to study a four-year course in classics and ancient literature, where he joins the infamous Bullingdon Club and begins to use the name Boris.

While there, he meets other future senior Conservative Party figures, such as David Cameron, Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt, and graduates with a 2:1.

1987

Aged 23, Mr Johnson marries university sweetheart Allegra Mostyn-Owen, enjoying a honeymoon in Egypt, before moving to west Kensington in London.

Through family connections, he begins work as a trainee for The Times newspaper but is dismissed after fabricating a quote for an article on the archaeological discovery of King Edward II's palace.

1989

After securing a job at The Daily Telegraph through ex-university acquaintances, Mr Johnson is appointed to the newspaper's Brussels bureau to report on the European Commission.

1993

Mr Johnson and Ms Mostyn-Owen divorce and he begins a relationship with Marina Wheeler, who he marries later that year, the couple move back to Islington, north London, and have four children together.

2001

Mr Johnson stands as the Conservative candidate for Henley and wins the seat with a majority of 8,500 votes.

He continues to work as the editor of The Spectator magazine despite promising not to run for Parliament while doing so.

2004

Mr Johnson is sacked as shadow arts minister by Michael Howard after it was revealed he was having an affair with columnist Petronella Wyatt despite describing it previously as an "inverted pyramid of piffle".

2006

After being re-elected as MP for Henley, Mr Johnson is appointed shadow higher education minister by David Cameron, then accused of having another affair with journalist Anna Fazackerley.

He is dismissed as editor of The Spectator by its new chief executive, Andrew Neil.

2008

Mr Johnson is elected mayor of London, beating Labour candidate Ken Livingstone by 55% to 47%. During his time in office, he continues such projects as Crossrail and the 2012 London Olympics and introduces new initiatives such as "Boris bikes" and a ban on drinking alcohol on public transport. He is re-elected for a second mayoral term in 2012.

2015

Mr Johnson is elected as MP for the safe Conservative seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip in the general election.

2016

He becomes a strong advocate of the Leave campaign in the Brexit referendum and, following Mr Cameron's resignation, is tipped as a frontrunner to become Conservative leader - though he ultimately loses out to Theresa May.

Mr Johnson is appointed as foreign secretary in Mrs May's Cabinet in July and stays in the post until 2018, when he resigns and returns to the Conservative backbenches.

2019

Following Mrs May's resignation, Mr Johnson is elected leader of the Conservative Party and becomes Prime Minister on July 24.

In December, he wins a snap general election by a considerable margin of 80 seats - the biggest Tory majority since 1987.

2020

On February 29 Mr Johnson and Carrie Symonds announce they had become engaged in late 2019, and that she was expecting a baby.

Wilfred Johnson was born on April 29.

The coronavirus crisis worsens within the first few months following the election victory.

Mr Johnson declares a nationwide lockdown on March 23, and is admitted to hospital with the disease on April 5.

He was admitted to intensive care, and left hospital on April 12.

The following month, it was revealed his de facto chief of staff Dominic Cummings made a trip with his family to Durham during the March 2020 lockdown while experiencing Covid-19 symptoms.

Neither Mr Johnson or Mr Cummings resigned, despite widespread calls for them to.

In November, Mr Cummings and director of communications Lee Cain resigned amid reports of infighting.

2021

On May 29 Mr Johnson married Carrie Symonds at Westminster Cathedral, the first Prime Minister to wed in office since 1822.

On July 31 they announced they were expecting their second child together after Mrs Johnson suffered a miscarriage earlier that year.

Their daughter Romy was born on December 9.

2022

After a series of "partygate" revelations during lockdown and several ethics concerns, scores of MPs resigned from the Government, finally forcing Mr Johnson to agree to stand down.

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